The Breed History
It is believed that the Swedish Vallhund goes back more than 1000 years to the days of the Vikings. During the eighth or ninth century, historians state, either the Swedish Vallhund was brought to Wales or the Corgi was taken to Sweden, hence the similarities between the two breeds. By 1942, the breed was almost extinct, and a breeding program was started. In 1948, the Swedish Kennel Club recognized the breed. In 1974, the first Swedish Vallhund came to England, and the Swedish Vallhund Society received approval from the UK Kennel Club in 1980. The first litter was born in the US in 1986. The breed received AKC recognition in 2007.
Breeding for Function
The Swedish Vallhund is a small, powerful, fearless, sturdily built Spitz herding dog. Swedish Vallhunds are bred to work on farms and ranches as a cattle/sheep herder. Their herding style is low to the ground and they herd by rounding up and nipping at the hocks.
Height at Withers: female 11.5 - 12.5" (29-32 cm), male 12.5 - 13.5" (32-34.5 cm)
Weight: 25-35 lbs. (11.5-16 kg).
Coat: Medium length hair, harsh; topcoat close and tight. Undercoat is soft and dense. Hair is short on the head and the foreparts of the legs and slightly longer on the neck, chest and back parts of the hind legs. A sable pattern is seen in colors of grey through red. Dark muzzle/mask. White is permitted as a narrow blaze, neck spot, slight necklace, and white markings on the legs, and chest. White can not be in excess of one third of the dog's total color.
Longevity: 12-14 years.
Points of Conformation: The relationship of height to length of body should be 2:3. Viewed from above, the head forms an even wedge from skull to tip of the nose and is well filled-in under the eyes. The eyes are medium size, oval in shape and dark brown with black eye rims. Prick ears. Viewed from the side, the muzzle should look rather square, slightly shorter than the skull. Scissors bite. Tails may be long, stub, or bob. Dewclaws may be removed. The gait is sound with strong reach and drive.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
The breed is watchful, energetic, fearless, alert, intelligent, friendly, eager to please, active, and steady, making a good herding and companion dog. Sound temperament, neither vicious or shy.
Normal Physiologic Variations
In a UK study, 30% of litters were born via Cesarean section.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Reported at a high frequency, however, too few Swedish Vallhunds have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency. Reported as a breed problem on the SVCA website.
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 10.2% affected.2 Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. OFA reports 2.4% affected.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 15.15% of Swedish Vallhunds CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Cataracts: Punctate cataracts predominate in the breed. Identified in 4.85% of Swedish Vallhunds CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Swedish Vallhund with a cataract.
Vitreous Degeneration: Liquefaction of the vitreous gel which may predispose to retinal detachment. Identified in 3.64% of Swedish Vallhunds CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Identified in 3.03% of Swedish Vallhunds CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Retinal Dysplasia: Focal retinal dysplasia/folds, and geographic retinal dysplasia are recognized in the breed. The later can progress to retinal detachment and blindness. Reported in 2.42% of Swedish Vallhunds CERF-examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. Too few Swedish Vallhunds have been tested for thyroid autoantibodies at Michigan State University to determine an accurate breed frequency. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Cryptorchidism (Retained Testicles): Can be bilateral or unilateral. Reported as a breed problem on the SVCA website.
Missing Teeth: Congenital absence of teeth, usually involving premolars. Reported as a breed problem on the SVCA website.
Isolated Case Studies
Tests of Genotype: none
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Hip radiograph and CERF eye examination. Recommend elbow radiographs, patella evaluation, thyroid profile including autoantibodies, and cardiac examination.
- Breed name synonyms: Vasgotaspets, Swedish Cattle Dog, Viking Dog, Spitz of the West Goths
- Registries: AKC, CKC, UKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club), FCI.
- AKC rank (year 2008): 149 (67 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: Swedish Vallhund Club of America: http://swedishvallhund.com
Swedish Vallhund Club of Canada: www.swedishvallhundclubofcanada.com
Swedish Vallhund Society (UK): www.swedishvallhunds.co.uk
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